You have, in your mind, a hope for a better you. Perhaps you wish to be less anxious. Maybe you want to be more patient, less angry. Maybe you want to be a healthier weight.
I don’t know what improvement you wish for. But I imagine that it’s been a rocky road so far. I guess you might have had several attempts at self-improvement, following some official diets, or attending a mindfulness course, or reading books. You have discovered it’s incredibly hard to change your habits. The books and courses make it sound so easy, but it’s not. You seem stuck in a rut, unable to change.
BLAMING OTHERS OR YOURSELF
You have, at times, got irritable with those around you. Family and friends have sometimes had to bear the brunt of your anxieties about yourself. When you become uncertain in yourself, you turn on others. Or else, you turn on yourself, beating yourself up and giving yourself a hard time.
This creates a mess of uncertainty and chaos. Relationships suffer because you either get irritable with others, or hide from them. Work suffers because you cannot seem to sustain a consistent series of days, without, eventually, becoming exhausted. Your home life suffers because you feel unsettled, and flutter here and there like a butterfly, never feeling quite at home.
SELF-IMPROVEMENT IS A JOURNEY
This article is too short to handle all aspects of self-improvement. But I can tell you that the less anxious you, the less irritable you, the healthier you, is best regarded as a journey.
This is because it is better to be gradual than radical. I have known lots of people put themselves on starvation diets, only to find that it becomes too much, and they ping back into overeating, even worse than before. Imagine yourself on a journey helps. A journey can start slowly, and build up sensibly, as you get used to the effort.
SELF-IMPROVEMENT NEEDS SELF-EDUCATION
If you want to be less anxious, then you had better understand a lot about why people become anxious and irritable. You are a biological machine, built through evolution, full of chemical messengers, and body parts which react to stresses and strains. So you had better learn about your own body.
If you want to become healthier, then you had better understand what your body needs. You also need to understand what poisons it. You need to know what substances hurt you, and which ones help you.
I take a positive view of human nature. I believe that, if we have information, then we are more likely to make good decisions.
This also extends to psychology. Do you know all the body sciences, but still find yourself sabotaging your own health? Well then, learn about psychology. Find out why humans become unhealthy and unhappy. Find out how to become happier.
SELF-IMPROVEMENT NEEDS CLEAR PRIORITIES
Have you often tried to improve yourself, but found that you slump back into your old ways?
One of the reasons for this, is conflicting priorities. Here’s an example: you want to diet, but you love food. Conflicting motivations. You want to be peaceful, but the neighbours drive you mad. Conflicting motivations.
You develop a fight in your head. Diet self versus food-loving self. Peaceful self versus angry self.
You had better decide which side you are on. You can still have lots of different bits to your personality… But you had better decide which part is going to be dominant. Diet self can keep control, and food-loving self can adapt. Peaceful self can keep control, and angry self can adapt. You need to decide on your priorities.
Whatever improvement you decide to make, follow four rules:
Don’t blame (either others or yourself). It’s pointless.
Imagine you’re on a journey. Gradual change is generally better than radical change.
Educate yourself. Learn about how your body and mind work.
Develop clear priorities. Some parts of you are going to grow, and others will have to adapt to your growth.